PES Ascent summer camp – Summer 2014
This summer, members of the PES Ascent Group ventured to the Isle of Wight for an action-packed trip involving camping, hiking, mountain boarding and archery. James Irvin, one of the group leaders shares his experiences of this fantastic trip.
“For the main group, summer camp began with a restless night in the school Outdoor Pursuits hut, but everybody was ready for the 6:30am start. Drowsily, bags were packed, and people climbed onto the coaches destined for the Isle of Wight. Two enormous lorries full of kit and the advance party of student leaders had already gone a day earlier.
As the students arrived they fell-in and the camp was declared open by the Senior Patrol Leader. As Adjutant I had to raise the Union Jack, which immediately got tangled in the trees. After that, summer camp really kicked into action. Patrols rushed to their sites, which had been prepared by the advanced party (the bears and stags) earlier that day, and set to work erecting their tents as best they could. Sleeping tents and dining shelters were hoisted up while preparations were made for the first meal of camp. The tents were inspected by the Bear Patrol Leaders to point out where they could be improved to prevent them collapsing in the night. Most meals were marked by the staff and student leaders for the cooking competition award at the end of camp. After everybody had eaten and washed-up, the troop assembled at the fall-in site and the flag was lowered, marking the end of a successful first day. Everybody retreated back to their sites and got some well-earned rest.
After an early start the bears conducted tours of the site, and students became acquainted with their beautiful surroundings; a network of clearings in woods running down to a tidal estuary. That afternoon, optional master classes were held. These included pioneering, camp baking, carving and trap building. Students also built various gadgets, which would be judged in a competition. These included a volleyball net, washing up stands and even a device that was used to measure the state of the tide, even though you could just glance over at the water! That evening preparations were made for the two days of hikes.
The hike route led students through green fields and valleys to the point where the hills began. After a few steep climbs the ground flattened out and the hikers were exposed to a truly awesome spectacle: outstanding panoramic views over the whole of the Isle of Wight. After a quick break everybody pressed on to the survival campsite, where upon arrival they would be instructed how to build a shelter from the natural materials that surrounded them. Students also traded the different meals they received in their army ration packs, and many put it upon themselves to see how many of the popular beef jerky packets they could get.
A highlight for many was the Olympiad. This was a competition where students jumped backwards, did the limbo and waded through mud to victory. There were some outstanding performances, including someone going under 60cm in the limbo. Students also tested their skills in the two activity days that followed. In these some students explored sea caves and canoed around the coast while others tested their mountain boarding and archery skills.
What followed was marked on the program as the “Excursion Day” where students were led to believe that they were going to the rather tame Robin Hill Adventure Land. Students were extremely surprised when they found out that they were actually taking part in a Shrek themed wide game, where they had to rescue the Princess – one of the year sevens in each patrol that had been kidnapped earlier in the day – from the tallest tower.
Overall, this summer camp was the best I have ever experienced, not least because it didn’t rain (which is a first for PES), but also because of the enormous efforts by the staff and volunteers. I have thoroughly enjoyed my year as being one of the student leaders in PES, and have found the experience very rewarding due to all of the skills I have learnt.”